The 12 essential tools every gardener should have

  • A hand trowel and hand fork are two of the must-have tools if you are just beginning to garden.

    A hand trowel and hand fork are two of the must-have tools if you are just beginning to garden. Stock Photo

By Nancy Mattia
CTW Features
Updated 4/30/2021 6:32 AM

Having a beautiful, bountiful garden takes work and the right equipment.

Take a look at this list of the top dozen items that do their jobs efficiently and save you time and effort when working in the yard:


1. Spade

The pointy edge of this popular hand tool helps pierce the soil and break up lumps, says Evelyn Tully Costa, a garden designer in Brooklyn, New York.

2. Hand trowel

You can rely on this mini shovel for tasks like digging out spots in the garden for flowers and plants and for digging up weeds.

3. Hand cultivator

The claw shape of this tool helps turn and loosen the soil for planting, says Costa. It can also be used to remove weeds.

4. Gardening gloves

Gloves, whether leather, cotton or a special fabric, protect your hands from cuts (think thorny roses) and blisters (all that raking!). They should be water-resistant and fit well.

5. Wheelbarrow

This workhorse can easily move myriad pounds of soil, compost, mulch and all those fallen leaves in your backyard from Point A to Point B.

6. Pruners

Use this scissor-like tool when your flowers or shrubs need a good trim. Costa recommends Felco #2 pruners, a lightweight classic that will last for years.

7. Loppers

This aptly named oversized trimmer can lop off large tree branches or shape overgrown shrubs that pruners can't handle.

8. Rake

When you've got piles of fall leaves to sweep, reach for a leaf rake, which looks like a fan with a long handle. It's made with a flexible material that moves leaves and grass clippings, says Costa, but keeps the soil in place.

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9. Hoe

The classic hoe comes in handy when you want to break up chunks of soil or chop weeds out of the ground.

10. Knee pad

When you're on the ground planting and weeding, having a cushion under your knees will make staying in that position a lot more comfortable.

11. Hat with mosquito netting

"If you live in an area where mosquitoes and blood-thirsty green flies fill the skies, you'll need protection," says Costa. "With the hat, I don't need bug spray, and I can work in a garden for hours without getting bitten."

12. Garden hose

You'll be doing a lot of watering, so make the job easier by getting a high-quality hose with a nozzle that comes with adjustable watering settings like "spray" and "jet."

Make sure it is long enough to reach your plants.

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